Berube Suspended for Slur

Share via
Times Wire Services

Craig Berube of the Washington Capitals was suspended for one game without pay on Tuesday for calling Florida’s Peter Worrell, who is black, a “monkey” during an on-ice scuffle on Sunday.

Berube will sit out tonight’s game against Montreal and his game salary of $7,300 will go to the NHL’s emergency assistance fund.

“Even accepting Mr. Berube’s explanation of what transpired and that Mr. Worrell is satisfied with the explanation and Mr. Berube’s apology, the remarks cannot be ignored,” said Brian Burke, senior vice president and director of hockey operations for the NHL.


The incident was the second time this month that a Capital player was suspended over a racial slur made to a a black opponent. Two weeks ago, Chris Simon was suspended for three games for a racial slur against Edmonton’s Mike Grier. Simon is an American Indian, as is Berube, who is known throughout the league as “Chief.”

Capital Vice President and General Manager George McPhee said the team believed Berube when he said he meant nothing racist by his remark.

“In his mind he grew up in a different culture. There was no racist intent,” McPhee said. “He’s a stand-up guy who said something he didn’t believe was racist.”

However, McPhee said the statement was wrong regardless of intent and the Capitals supported the suspension.

“It obviously hurt the other player and when things like that are said action needs to be taken,” McPhee said.

McPhee said the Capital players would undergo some type of sensitivity training.


The American Hockey League suspended a player for three games for calling an opponent a “black boy.”


AHL President Dave Andrews suspended Sami Helenius of the Saint John (New Brunswick) Flames defenseman for a racial slur against Fredrik Oduya of the Kentucky Thoroughblades.

Helenius, from Finland, called Oduya--who was born in Sweden and is half-Swedish and half-Kenyan--a “black boy” when the two fought in front of the Saint John net, the Saint John Telegraph-Journal reported.

The remark was heard by linesman Chuck McTague, who then told referee Mike Leggo. Both players were given roughing penalties, with Helenius also receiving a gross misconduct penalty.

Helenius, who apologized to Oduya immediately after the game, declined comment.

Said Oduya to the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader: “It’s a dead issue.”


Phoenix’s Oleg Tverdovsky, one of the NHL’s four Group II free agents still holding out, will play for the AHL’s Hamilton (Ontario) Bulldogs in Cincinnati tonight.

Tverdovsky signed a 25-game tryout contract and practiced with Hamilton after getting approval from the NHL, Phoenix and Edmonton to play with the Bulldogs--the Oilers’ top minor league team.

Along with Tverdovsky, the other Group II free agents still holding out are the Ducks’ Paul Kariya, Detroit’s Sergei Fedorov and Pittsburgh’s Petr Nedved.